As soon as the needle drops on the …Like Clockwork vinyl, there’s a sense of tension. The first track begins but instead of music, only the sounds of bottles crashing to a floor come through the speakers. Closer and closer, the sound approaches like a reaper in the form of the aggressive and slow rhythm of a guitar. The opener, “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” introduces the listener into the world of Queens of the Stone Age. The image of a dark sky is brought to mind, illuminated by the blood red hue of the setting sun. The journey will be a descent into darkness. Tune in to …Like Clockwork, and you’ll lose track of the world around you.
The second track, “I Sat By The Ocean,” conjures images of failed relationships. With sassy guitar riffs and solos the song has a beachy feel to it, much lighter than the previous song. Juxtaposed with “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” an interesting contrast is made. This song is the flashback into the life of a devastated and frustrated man.
Next up is a piano driven ballad titled “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.” Queens of the Stone Age has never made a song quite like this. It may throw off a few die-hard fans who are expecting a more heavy, industrial sound, but there is a particular tone of sadness and loss in this song that succeeds in exposing songwriter Josh Homme as a person. Lyrics like “you must be vulnerable if you intend to truly fall apart” compliment the open and delicate sound of the piano.
“If I Had a Tail” sounds as if Homme is singing about the self-destructive nature of the American lifestyle, with a tone that suggests he is sarcastically accepting the situation. The song will satisfy longtime Queens of the Stone Age fans with a classic rock vibe. “If I Had a Tail” is followed by “My God is the Sun,” which discusses purification while sharing a similar heavy rock sound and condescending quality with the previous track.
The song “Kalopsia” inspires detailed imagery of a man in a coma. The track starts with the sound of breathing, taking the listener to an ethereal state of mind, beautiful and unreal, interrupted suddenly by the screech of feedback and heavy guitar. It sounds like a musical narrative of a man gasping for air, disturbed by the waking world and grasping for his lost state of peace.
Homme seems to use the next song to personally rail against people who have let him down. “Fairweather Friends” is expresses frustration with people who should have been there in times of need.
While “Fairweather Friends” is a more energetic listen, when “Smooth Sailing” comes on you can’t help but stand up dancing to the steady, swanky beat. The solos will blow your mind and playful musicianship is paired with edgy lyricism to make for an interesting head-banging opportunity.
Homme fully addresses the near-death fog he experienced (the result of knee surgery gone wrong) in “I Appear Missing,” pairing the experience of a coma-like state with the feeling of disconnect with someone who he felt love towards. He appears missing to them, never to be found. The sadness in this song is evident, as if everything that matters has been lost.
“…Like Clockwork” is the denouement of this story. Ending with this song lets the listener know that this downward slope of emotion was just like clockwork, turning like cogs in place, expected and inevitable. This song is about the acceptance of loss. Overall …Like Clockwork is an amazing album, full of darker themes, and definitely worth a listen. Plan on playing it on repeat until your ears explode.